With Aaron Hernandez behind bars indefinitely, officials are taking a close look at the vast array of tattoos on his body. The purpose of the effort isn’t to critique the ink but to ensure Hernandez’s safety.
“We’ll be looking at his tattoos to see if there are any symbols that affiliate with gangs
,” Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson told the Boston Herald
. “We have to always be vigilant around security and not place him somewhere where there are rival gang members.”
If that happens, Hernandez could be in danger.
“Hernandez could be a very appealing target for someone who wants to make a reputation for himself,” UCLA adjunct professor of social welfare Jorja Leap told the Herald. “The sheriff needs to be extra careful with someone like Hernandez.”
This raises an obvious question for the NFL, which in recent years has begun probing touchdown celebrations and on-field celebrations for evidence of gang signs
. Did the league or the team ever check Hernandez’s tattoos to determine whether any of them reflect gang affiliation?
More broadly, the league and its teams need to ask themselves if that’s something that should be done with new and existing players. On one hand, it feels like an invasion of privacy. But if guys have applied to their skin evidence to suggest gang affiliations and if the NFL is concerned about keeping gang influence out of the game, it makes sense for the NFL to at least consider it.